COVID-19: Bio-waste concern for Home Isolation Patients in Bhubaneswar

As COVID-19 cases grip the capital city, the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) is recommending home isolation to keep the demand for beds and ICUs in check. This has posed a significant bio-medical waste collection challenge in the city. Currently, more than 2400 COVID-19 positive patients are in home isolation. However, the corporation can collect bio-waste of around two per cent of these patients daily.

Following the directive of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the BMC has engaged sanitation agency Jagruti Welfare Organisation for collection of waste and Sani Clean Private Limited for its disposal at Tangiapada near Khurda. Earlier, the corporation had decided to engage four vehicles for the collection of the domestic biomedical waste but soon more carriers have to be deployed to deal with the situation. As of now, only three vehicles are collecting waste in three zones around the city.

Sources from Jagruti say they are unable to meet the demand of covering 100 houses daily. They currently cover only 40 to 50 residences per day.

As per protocol, the bio-medical waste produced by COVID patients in home isolation should be collected through double-layered non-chlorinated disposable plastic bags. The agencies are supposed to provide the bags to patients for safe collection, transport, and disposal. However, in some areas, patients are either dumping waste at random spots or mixing it with regular garbage, raising a concern as it exposes the sanitation workers who are engaged in the door-to-door collection.

“It causes a huge problem as it needs to be segregated again before its disposal. We have been receiving such complaints from our collection staff regularly”, said a person from Jagruti.

“This is an area of concern. We have been contacting patients asking them to segregate their bio-medical waste and provide it to the designated van. However, many patients do not practise it”, said Suvendu Sahu, Deputy Commissioner, BMC.

The corporation is making constant efforts to notify the public about the correct procedures.